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Best of Delaware Party 2016: Accommodations, Beneficiaries and More

The Best of Delaware Party is a fun event that celebrates excellence and raises funds for worthy local causes. It continues to be one of the most popular events in the state. The people, places, services and restaurants that have received an esteemed Best of Delaware award use this night to showcase why they are worthy of their title. Guests are excited to get out, see old friends, make new ones, dance, drink and sample the vast array of delicious food and enjoyable products offered by our winners.

Date: Thursday, July 21, 2016
Location: Dover Downs Hotel & Casino

VIP preview party: 5–6 p.m. $85 per ticket (Includes preview and main event. No discounts or group rates.) Come early and avoid the crowd and lines.  Only a limited number of VIP tickets are available.

Main event: 6–9 p.m. $65 in advance or $75 at the door. 
Group rate: $55 each (for 10 or more). 

To purchase tickets, visit or call 656-1809.


Do the Shuttle

Delaware Express will get you to the party and back—for free.

Partygoers from northern Delaware can ride in comfort to the Best of Delaware festivities for free, thanks to sponsor Delaware Express. Shuttles will provide transportation to and from two convenient locations: Lot K of the Wilmington Riverfront parking lot (at the corner of Justison and Beech streets across from the Delaware Children’s Museum), and the Del. 7 and Del. 273 Park & Ride in Newark. The shuttle leaves the riverfront location at 4:30 p.m. and the Newark location at 5 p.m. The return shuttle departs Dover at 9:15 p.m. To register to ride the shuttle for free, go to


Stay and Play

Extend the fun by staying for the after-party at Fire & Ice Lounge at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, where there will be live entertainment and drink specials. Then stay overnight at the AAA Four-Diamond Award-winning hotel. A special Best of Delaware rate of $159 per night includes breakfast for two in the Festival Buffet, $25 off a signature massage at Toppers Spa/Salon, and $25 in free slot play for all first-time Capital Club members.

Hotel amenities include a variety of dining choices, a full-service spa and salon, fitness center, indoor pool and sauna. Those interested in gaming action will enjoy more than 2,300 slot machines, 41 live table games and an 18-table poker room, as well as live simulcast horse racing.

To make your Best of Delaware reservation, contact VIP Services at (800) 711-5882 and mention Best of Delaware Package or Group Code: G2016. Rate is subject to an 8 percent occupancy tax and $6 resort fee.


Mary Fox (left) and Stephanie Johnnie

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware

For 52 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware has been making a big difference. Adult volunteers help to transform young lives by providing one-on-one time and serving as positive role models for children who are considered at risk.

Most of these kids live in low-income households, often headed by a single parent or grandparent. With resources stretched thin, there’s often no way to get to Little League practice, the library or attend cultural events.

By partnering with parents/guardians, volunteers and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters helps children avoid risky behaviors, have higher aspirations and make wise choices. The organization is recognized as best in class by juvenile justice professionals, including the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Each year, 1,200 children and youth ages 6-17 are buoyed by mentors through the Delaware program. The kids are known as Littles. The grownups are Bigs.

“Any child can benefit from a mentor,” says executive director Mary Fox. “What we are trying to do is identify the most vulnerable children.”

The children are divided almost evenly between boys and girls. But because more women volunteer than men, there is a waiting list for mentors for boys.

“The vast majority of children we serve come to us through their parents, single parents in particular,” Fox says. “They also come to us through their schools and through counseling services.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters succeeds in helping kids in three critical areas: doing better in school, avoiding bad and risky behaviors, and social and emotional gains, such as improved confidence and self-esteem.

Researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their Bigs, children in the program were 46 percent less likely to start using drugs and 52 percent less likely to skip school. Kids did better in school and formed stronger family bonds.

The organization also offers mentoring for children with a parent in prison who are underperforming in school and adolescents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.

Nationwide, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been helping change kids’ perspectives since 1904 when a New York City court clerk recruited volunteers to mentor boys who got on the wrong side of the law. In 1977, the Big Brothers Association and Big Sisters International joined forces and became Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

There are three locations in Delaware: Wilmington in New Castle County, Dover in Kent County and Georgetown in Sussex County. 

Volunteers are as diverse as the children they serve. In Wilmington, some mentors visit schools through corporate support via the School-Based Mentoring Program; in Sussex County, a growing number of retirees are volunteering. 

In the Community-Based Mentoring Program, Bigs and Littles get together two to four times each month. A few volunteers mentor more than one child. Some married couples mentor together. 

“It isn’t the easiest volunteer experience you could ask for,” Fox says. “But it is the most rewarding.”

Want to volunteer to change a child’s life for the better? Contact Big Brothers Big Sisters at or call 998-3577.


Christy Pennington (left) and Lynne Biddle-Cloud

Delaware Guidance Services for Children and Youth Inc.

Childhood isn’t always carefree. Kids can suffer from anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

Delaware Guidance Services for Children and Youth Inc. (DGS) provides quality mental health services for children, youth and their families.  

“Studies say that as many as one in five children are dealing with some sort of mental health issue,” says Bruce Kelsey, executive director. “We believe that all children have a right to good mental health and should have access to quality therapeutic care, regardless of their ability to pay.” 

In the past year, 15,000 kids in Delaware received services from the agency. They range in age from 2-18. About 85 percent were on Medicaid, the government program for people who are poor or disabled.

DGS has achieved a 94 percent success rate in helping kids, as indicated by parents who say their children’s behavior has improved.

The goal is not only to help kids now but to give them the tools and resilience they need to thrive as grownups.

“We teach them coping skills they can carry into adulthood,” Kelsey says.

Founded in 1952 by the Junior League of Wilmington, DGS began as a one-psychiatrist operation in a borrowed space. It is now the largest, single, not-for-profit provider of comprehensive psychiatric services for children and their families in Delaware with a staff of 200, an annual budget of $12 million and five locations statewide.

“It all started with a pediatrician who thought that the mental health of children should be addressed as well as their physical health,” Kelsey says.

There are lots of reasons why children need care, ranging from behavioral issues to thoughts of harming themselves.

“Some kids come in with mood disorders or behavior problems in the classroom,” she says. “Frequently, we see kids who are neglected and abused or who have experienced a trauma or loss in their lives.”

Referrals come from families, school districts, clergy and other nonprofits. The state Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services contracts with DGS to provide crisis services, a therapeutic day treatment program and intensive outpatient programs. 

Through intensive outpatient services, teams of  therapists and community interventionists work with children on an individual basis for four to six hours a week in an effort to prevent hospitalization.

There also are programs to educate parents on better managing behavioral problems at home. A psychiatrist and a licensed psychiatric nurse practitioner work with kids and families to provide psychopharmacology services.

Kelsey notes there is a shortage of mental health professionals in Delaware, mirroring a national trend. In response, DGS has developed a two-year advanced clinical training program that allows master’s level graduates to train under licensed supervisors. 

“With an estimated 25,000 children and adolescents in need of care, it is critical that we have a quality professional workforce available to meet that growing need,” he says.

Looking forward, DGS is striving to make services more accessible by increasing their outreach into the community and forming new partnerships with other organizations. DGS is committed to keeping abreast of new treatments and utilizing a best practices approach to making them available to kids who need help. For more info, visit


Delaware Today publisher Rob Martinelli and associate publisher Mary Fitts (center) are joined by party sponsors (from left) Bob Kreston and Jeff Kreston of Kreston Wine & Spirits, Dorothy Malinoski of Fulton Paper & Party, Meghan Grimm of Alfieri Cardiology, Jeannine Lahey of Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, Jessica Dubois of TD Bank, Doug Phillips of Horty & Horty, P.A., Gerry Hartman of Delaware Express Shuttle, Dawn Phillips of Horty & Horty, Gordon Basht of Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, Deanie Gory of Johnny Janosik, Amy Sassaman of Borsello Landscaping, Bonnie Stanley of Johnny Janosik and Robert Njoku of Felton Holly Kia.


The Stage is Set

Back2Life, a dynamic eight-piece dance band, is new to the party this year. The versatile band will surely make a splash playing everything from classic rock to groovy funk that will bring down the house. This group’s polished vocals and exceptional instrumentals are renowned in the greater Philadelphia area. Back2Life has performed during many events and shows, including Tony Luke’s “Eaglemania.” It’s also rocked exclusive clubs, hotels, the Philadelphia Convention Center and the Wells Fargo Center.


Research Assistance by Alexandra Karlesses 

Alfieri Cardiology

With three convenient locations, Alfieri Cardiology provides high-quality care and highly personalized treatment with an emphasis on prevention and patient education. The triple-certified practice includes an imaging center and vascular lab, ensuring that patients have access to the tests and studies they need to monitor their health. (

Fulton Paper & Party

“Elegance you deserve at prices you will love.” That saying and great customer service is what Fulton Paper and Party is all about. Fulton’s knowledgeable staff helps customers with ideas to fit any event-decorating budget. Stop in and preview the fantastic selection of custom printed bridal invitations featuring today’s latest design styles. Fulton has locations in Bear, Middletown, Newark and Wilmington. (

Horty & Horty, P.A. 

With 45 years of experience, the team of certified public accountants and consultants at Horty & Horty offer the expertise and excellence that propel businesses to the next level. With offices in Wilmington and Dover, Horty & Horty is a true full-service CPA firm. The firm serves a full spectrum of clients: from startups to large corporations, from government agencies to not-for-profit organizations. (

Johnny Janosik World of Furniture

Over four acres of famous, brand-name home furnishings await your visit to Johnny Janosik’s state-of-the-art gallery showroom in Laurel. Its huge selection of indoor and outdoor furniture and bedding for every taste and budget makes the trip worthwhile. Staff at the Eastern Shore’s No. 1 furniture store offer free in-home design services. (

Kerns Brothers Tree Service & Landscaping

For 42 years, Kerns Brothers has provided the tri-state area with expert tree care, creative landscape designs, installations and hardscape services. The first company in Delaware nationally accredited by the Tree Care Industry Association, Kerns Brothers has six International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborists and a certified nursery professional on staff. (

Standard Distributing 

Standard Distributing Co. Inc. is a full-service wholesale beer distributor with locations in New Castle and Dover. Founded in 1933, Standard is owned and operated by the third and fourth generations of the Tigani family. Standard serves Delaware customers by representing nationally known brewers and importers of beer and nonalcoholic beverages. (

TD Bank

TD Bank, “America’s Most Convenient Bank,” is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 8 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at approximately 1,200+ convenient locations throughout the East Coast. (

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